Tag: camera

Canon raises its aim

Japan’s Canon lifted its full year operating profit forecast after reporting strong first-quarter results on the back of earnings from a medical equipment unit it bought from Toshiba last year.

The camera and printer maker forecast profit of $2.43 billion, up from $2.28 billion estimated in January. It reported profit of $2.05 billion in the previous year

The upbeat outlook suggests Canon’s strategy to diversify has begun to reward the company after the $5.8 billion acquisition of the Toshiba unit and the $2.8 billion takeover of Swedish video-surveillance firm Axis AB.

Canon also said the two existing businesses that have long dragged its earnings down – laser printers and cameras – are also showing signs of bottoming out.

Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Toshizo Tanaka told an earnings briefing that recovery in the Chinese and other emerging economies is pushing up demand for laser printers, while continued popularity of so-called mirrorless cameras is driving camera sales.

For the January-March quarter, Canon said operating profit jumped 88.8 percent

FBI has your TorMail mailbox

The FBI has seized the entire email database of a popular anonymous webmail service called TorMail meaning that all those secret mails now can be read by the US government.

The database was taken while investigating a hosting company known for sheltering child porn last year and now the FBI claims that it has uncovered a vast trove of email which can be used in unrelated investigations.

Taken from Freedom Hosting, the database surfaced in court papers last week when prosecutors indicted a Florida man for allegedly selling counterfeit credit cards online. The untouchables built a case in part by executing a search warrant on a Gmail account used by the counterfeiters, where they found that orders for forged cards were being sent to a TorMail e-mail account: “platplus@tormail.net.”

They then obtained a search warrant for the TorMail account, and then accessed it from the bureau’s own copy of “data and information from the TorMail email server, including the content of TorMail email accounts.”

In othe rwords, the FBI is gathering information into a virtual lock box, and leaving it there until it can obtain specific authority to tap it later. So far it is not searching the trove for incriminating evidence before getting a warrant. But now it has a copy of the TorMail’s servers, the bureau can execute endless search warrants.

What is alarming for TorMail users is that the mail service once boasted of being immune to spying. This is the second major victory for the Untouchables over so-called anonymous communication. Last year it won a court order compelling secure email provider Lavabit to turn over the master encryption keys for its website. This would have given agents the technical ability to spy on all of Lavabit’s 400,000 users. Rather than comply, Lavabit shut down and is appealing the surveillance order.

TorMail was the webmail provider of the Darknet of anonymous and encrypted websites and services, making the FBI’s cache extraordinarily valuable. 

FBI nearly owns most Bitcoins

The US FBI is apparently the proud owner of the world’s largest bitcoin wallet.

After the agency allegedly shut down the Silk Road online drug marketplace, it started seizing bitcoins belonging to the Dread Pirate Roberts. The FBI said that “Roberts,” who ran Silk Road, was an American man named Ross Ulbricht.

Of course, Silk Road continues to operate and someone on that site claims to be the real Spartacus er Dread Pirate Roberts.

Nevertheless the seizure made the FBI the holder of the world’s biggest Bitcoin wallet.

According to Wired, the Untouchables control more than 144,000 bitcoins that reside at a bitcoin address that consolidates much of the seized Silk Road bitcoins. At today’s rates that is $100 million. Another address, containing Silk Road funds seized earlier by the FBI, contains nearly 30,000 bitcoins or $20 million.

The FBI can’t beat the record of bitcoin’s inventor Satoshi Nakamoto, who is estimated to have mined one million bitcoins in the currency’s early days, but it means the FBI have a percent of all 12 million bitcoins in circulation. 

Macbooks use cameras to spy on owners

The fruit themed toymaker Apple’s legendary sloppy security has been bought into the spotlight again after it was revealed that you can turn on the laptops camera without the owner knowing.

Miss Teen USA Cassidy Wolf contacted the FBI after she received two nude photos of herself by e-mail which had been taken over a period of several months.

The untouchables found that the person who had taken the snaps was a high school classmate, a man named Jared Abrahams. Abrahams’s had software on his computer that allowed him to spy remotely on her and numerous other Apple fangirls. Abrahams pleaded guilty to extortion in October.

Laptops with built-in cameras have a privacy feature that turns on a light when the camera is being used. In the case of PCs, security experts say that there is no way to deactivate the warning light. However it appears that in the case of Macbooks someone has worked out how to do it.

In fact the FBI recently admitted to the Washington Post that it has known how to do it for years. This is despite the fact that Apple assured its users that the camera had a “hardware interlock” between the camera and the light to ensure that the camera couldn’t turn on without alerting its owner.

Security experts at Johns Hopkins University have come up  with a method using MacBook and iMac models released before 2008 and would probably work on later models too.

It is based on the fact that a modern laptop has several different computers in one package. Apple designed its MacBooks to block software running on the MacBook’s CPU from activating its iSight camera without turning on the light. But if you target the chip inside the camera, known as a micro-controller, you can defeat this security feature.

But this also opens up a large number of security vulnerabilities in Macbooks which no one ever really thought of.

The researchers found that you could also mount an attack on Apple batteries, which causes the battery to discharge rapidly, potentially leading to a fire or explosion. Another researcher was able to convert the built-in Apple keyboard into spyware using a similar method.

It all depends on how much security Apple puts on its hardware, and it appears that they might not put on much. The reports’ authors said that they had contacted Apple, which got back to them several times. However it does not appear to have done anything.

The best way to deal with the problem is to put a piece of tape on your camera which you take off when you want to use it. No Apple fanboy would do that of course, it would destroy the gizmo’s design. It is much better for them to trust in the power of Steve Jobs to protect them from all hacks. 

FBI can turn on your PC camera

The Untouchables have worked out a way of turning on your computer camera so that the green light does not come on.

 The Washington Post   reports that the FBI has had the ability to secretly activate a computer’s camera “without triggering the light that lets users know it is recording” for years now.

Marcus Thomas, the former assistant director of the FBI’s Operational Technology Division, told the Post that that the spy laptop recording is “mainly” used in terrorism cases or the “most serious” of criminal investigations. Well if it is protecting from terrorism that makes it all ok then.

The story was about how the FBI tracked a bloke called Mo who made a series of threats to detonate bombs at universities and airports across the United States last year.

The FBI’s hacker team designed a piece of malicious software that was to be delivered secretly when Mo signed on to his Yahoo e-mail account. The goal of the software was to gather details of the Web sites he had visited and indicators of the location of the computer.

Ironically, while the Untouchables were able to get a fair bit of search technology into Mo’s computer they are still yet to be able to arrest him. Apparently because he is in Iran now.  If he ever does come back, it would not be surprising that a court gets many evidential snaps of him looking dazed into his computer first thing in the morning.

Electrical engineers come up with 50 gigapixel camera

Electrical engineers from Duke University and the University of Arizona have come up with a camera that can create images with unprecedented detail.

According to PhysOrg the camera’s resolution is five times better than 20/20 human vision and can show a 120 degree horizontal field.

The camera can snap 50,000 megapixels of data, when most cameras can manage only eight to 40 megapixels.

The researchers think that as the electronic components of the cameras become miniaturised and more efficient, the next generation of gigapixel cameras should be in the shops.

Details of the new camera were published online in the journal Nature. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) backed the prototype’s development.

Researcher David Brady said that each microcamera captures information from a specific area of the field of view. This data is then stitched together by the CPU into a highly detailed image. They noticed that the camera can capture images of things that photographers cannot see themselves but can then detect when the image is viewed later. 

Almighty Imperium goes after Apple and RIM with camera lawsuit

Imperium Holdings has launched a lawsuit against a host of firms over the alleged infringement of patents pertaining to image sensor technology.

Firms involved in the suit, which has been given to the District Court for the Eastern District of Texas Sherman Division, include Apple, LG, Motorola, Nokia, RIM and Sony Ericsson and covers five separate patents.

The patents all relate to CMOS image technology used in the digital cameras found in smartphones, with Apple’s iPhone and Motorla’s EM330 cited as examples of what Imperium believes to be an infringement of its own technology.

The patents cover the following: ‘Image Flicker Reduction with Fluorescent Lighting’, which was filed in August 2001, ‘High Sensitivity Snap Shot CMOS Image Sensor’, filed in January 2005, ‘CMOS Image Sensor Arrangement with Reduced Pixel Light Shadowing’, also filed in January 2005, ‘Bad Pixel Correction While Preserving Features’, filed in June 2006, and ‘Semiconductor Device for Isolating a Photodiode to Reduce Junction Leakage’, filed in September 2006.

Basically the patent cover various parts of the image sensor mechanics of the way that pixels are arranged in an array, for example to reduce shadowing, and the way that pixels turn analog data into digital data among other applications.

Imperium now seeks a permanent injunction against the defendants over the production and sale of the products which it believes contravenes the technologies set out in its patents, with applicable damages to be awarded by the court.

David Icke, who likes to comment on US CMOS patent disputes, believes that the Cayman Island’s Imperium is “quite possibly a front for a reptilian group sent to Earth to carry out patent trolling”.

University used Kafkaesque methods to deal with spying accusation

Brooklyn College in the Land of the Free had a novel way of dealing with a student who claimed that there was a spy camera in her room.

When she went to the Brooklyn College Campus Security and Safety Office to complain that her off campus landlord was using a spy cam on her, they offered her an involuntary two-week stay at a psychiatric hospital to treat her “paranoia”.

The only thing was that the landlord had installed a spy camera in Chinemerem Eze’s bedroom. It is not clear why, or what he was doing with the film. However,  Eze found the camera after she had been “cured” by the hospital.

By the time she got out of the loony bin she missed her final exams and was not able to complete them.

As a result she wound up losing a scholarship she’d received from the school.

Since she is in the US, she is suing the security officers, psychologist, and the school for negligence, emotional distress, and false imprisonment. Her lawyer, Andrew Spinnell, says this was “totally inappropriate conduct by the college.”

Brooklyn College is a state school so it will have to be defended by the New York Attorney General’s office on the taxpayer’s dime.

According to Forbes  all this happened in 2008, Brooklyn College’s case might be strengthened by the fact that Eze also claimed there was a defamaton campaign against her on the Internet and this suggested that she was paranoid.

However,  just because you are paranoid it does not mean that people are not out to get you. In this case it appears that her landlord was spying on her and society really was out to get her. We always thought that sending dissidents to mental hospital’s was a trick of Stalin’s. 

Japanese company makes flu-detecting mirror

Japanese firm NEC Avio Infrared Technologies has today announced the development of a mirror that can detect flu-like symptoms, such as a fever.

The Thermo Mirror has a built-in thermometer, but an individual does not need to make any physical contact with the device for it to measure their temperature, making it a handy reusable instrument for measuring flu.

While a person admires their beauty or frets about how many extra stones they put on over Christmas, the mirror displays their temperature and an alarm sounds if they are deemed feverish.

NEC Avio said that it expects that the device will be used in corporate receptions, schools, hospitals and public facilities, but it could also replace more expensive technology used in airports. Many airports currently use thermography cameras to detect feverish travellers to prevent them from travelling in a constricted air space, a perfect condition for spreading disease. 

These devices are expensive, however, usually costing well over $10,000 each, but the Thermo Mirror can be bought for either 98,000 yen ($1,180) or 120,000 yen ($1,445), depending on the version, which means you can get a lot more for your money.

NEC Avio plans to sell 5,000 units of the Thermo Mirror this year.

With the recent increases in cases of swine flu, we may in future ditch the doctor to turn to our trusted mirror and say: “Mirror, mirror, on the wall, do I have the flu at all?”

Microsoft planning update to quadruple Kinect accuracy

Microsoft is planning an update for the Kinect that could quadruple its accuracy.

The firmware update will add improved finger movement and hand rotation detection to the Kinect camera, with users only needing to download a software update straight into their Kinect to benefit from the improvements.

Accuracy of the Kinect’s well-received motion capture camera is set to jump to four times its current levels due to the new detection of smaller joints on the body.

The resolution will also increase from 320×240 to 640×480, increasing the depth sensor of the camera.

Eurogamer was told that the USB controller interface is only using 15 or 16MB/s, but that it is capable of reaching 35MB/s, showing the potential expansion of the device and software. It is believed that 20MB/s would deliver full resolution for both cameras on the Kinect.

The increase in accuracy and resolution could slow down game speeds, however, and it’s not certain that any of the current Kinect-capable titles on the Xbox 360 could avail of the boost, but with the Kinect only recently launching it’s still early days to deliver new games with improved accuracy.

The Kinect has gained popularity in the hacking community over the past month when an open source driver was developed to make the device work with non-Xbox devices. Multiple developments such as 3D video capture and augmented reality have been achieved, all of which could benefit from the improved accuracy touted in the upcoming update.